Friday, 30 November 2007


This week it was announced that elections to the new Cornish Unitary Authority will take place in May 2009, not 2008 as originally planned. One of the odd side effects of this is that because Parish Council elections are to be brought in line with the Unitary elections, the next Parish Council elections will not be until 2013. So those of us elected to Parish Councils last year, and Truro City Council is a Parish Council, were signing on for for a 7 year term. I'm not sure that's a good thing at all.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Another tea break

You might ask what happened to lunch? no time to rest here, lunch time found me hurrying around delivering coal. When he died, in about 1880, Mr Furniss of Furniss Biscuit fame left a pile of cash to pay for coal for poor people. Well its still going and I look after west Truro. So my lunchtime spent out delivering coal vouchers, having established that they needed them, which in my book means making sure that they have chimney pots.

But back to the early part of the week. That was all taken up with the Railway Club Planning Tribunal. Monday preparing, Tuesday giving evidence and Wednesday fetching and carrying for our Barrister. We've done our best now and will have to wait until the end of January for the result. On the last day the Tribunal sat from 9.30 until 19.00 with just 45 mins for lunch. I spent my lunch break taking mirrors off the wall for an old lady who was moving. 'Oh and could you move the washing machine for me?' 'but its still connected' 'yes dear, here's some screwdrivers'. So there I am, in my Tribunal suit, scrabbling about under her kitchen unit with a leaky old washing machine. I don't think I've got the hang of this being a Councillor lark. Must learn how to say no.

Tea break time

Sunday saw us down at the Blue Bar in Portowan, for the Cornish leg of the Huhne Clegg Hustings Roadshow. A lovely day, cold but with clear blue skies and a nice bit of surf rolling in. Nick couldn't resist the beach and took the opportunity to 'get some sand on his shoes', as the late great Johnny Cash once sang.

I'm voting for Clegg, but I'm delighted that we have two really good candidates and that they took the time to come all the way down here twice during the campaign. They were asked what job they would give the losing candidate. Nick said 'a really big one', and I hope he meant shadow chancellor, a role in which Chris would be brilliant. Chris forgot to answer that one, but he would be mad to overlook Nick.

One thing they both must think about is how to give Vince Cable a prominent role. Both Clegg and Huhne supporters have been united in their applause for Vince and we must make sure that he continues to be a big part of the front bench team

Busy week

Well I hope somebody has noticed that I haven't posted all week. Reason is, I've been busy. Last Friday was 11 million takeover day, a scheme where Young People take over key roles in an effort to get their voices heard. I'd arranged for Young People to be Mayors of Truro, Falmouth and Pennryn and spent the day looking after the Truro Mayor's. It went really well, the Young people were great, they interviewed like old hands on Pirate FM and in the West Briton, and the feedback from the Officers they met has been very good. Everyone is keen to set up a Youth Council, as a means of getting Young People's voices heard in the Council Chamber and to enable the Council to communicate with Young People. On Pirate FM the Young Mayor said how surprised she had been that Officers had listened carefully and made notes, that it was that easy to get your voice heard. Well, it is if you're the Mayor!

I've got a pile of housework and post to get through, so I'll continue to bring you up to date, at the next coffee break!

Thursday, 22 November 2007


Nice run this morning. A combination of diet and exercise means I'm getting thinner and fitter, who knew that would work?, but running faster means we can't chat and I'm left with my own thoughts. So I was turning over a recent irony. No, not Huhne trying to label Nick 'Calamity' then saying he has no idea what his own staff are up to, and no control over what they send out. No, thoughts tend to be a bit more basic on a run. Because I'm dieting I'm watching the calories. At the Christmas Fare there was a guess the calories in this pile of cakes competition. Using my new expertise I made an educated guess and I won! The pile of cakes is the prize and they've been delivered today. Because I'm on a diet, I've won a pile of cakes. I think that's irony.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


Once again Chris apologises for the actions of a junior member of staff, then repeats the same line of attack. I'm all for taking a more aggressive line with the other parties, but this is damaging us. Interesting that the head of Revenue and Customs resigned over a mistake made by a junior member of staff. No comparison of course.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Truro's Parade of Lights

Christmas kicks off in Truro with our Parade of Lights. The local school kids make the lanterns, with some help from artists, and parade them through the streets. Truro becomes a proper Cornish town for the night and at the end, in good celtic style, we burn all the lanterns.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Clegg and Huhne at the Christmas Fare

We had our Christmas Fair this weekend, and it went very well. It's nice when people come away from an event planning the extra things they are going to do next year!

Nick and Chris dropped in. I've already declared for Nick, but I'll admit that Chris won the first points by arriving early and staying the longest. Nick was on a very tight schedule, and it does annoy helpers when MP's are looking at their watches as soon as they arrive.

But I haven't changed my view. Chris has this sort of self aware thing most MP's have, I'm important and I know it, and here I am talking to a member of the public looking really concerned and interested. Is there a photographer? Nick seems more like a normal bloke and seems to be aware of people, other than himself. As we had a tight schedule I was trying to just introduce him to active party members. As we moved away from the Raffle Stall, Nick realised he hadn't been introduced to one helper. 'Hi I'm Nick Clegg, who are you?' 'I'm Rob's wife' 'oh, why didn't he introduce us?' 'Because I'm just part of the furniture'. I suffered for that later, but Nick won another vote. And several more when he bought some Marmalade from the produce stall.

The events of yesterday only confirm my view. Nick's a decent guy who connects with people easily. He's what we need

Friday, 16 November 2007

Toryboy 2

A special meeting of the full Council yesterday, to deal with an unexpected shortfall in funding for the Dracena Centre, Falmouth's new Youth Club. I don't generally pay much attention to what goes on outside Truro, but in my Young Peoples Champion role, I've been down there to meet youth workers, teachers, policeman, etc and they tell me there are real problems with young people, down there. Not many people who visit Falmouth for their holidays would realise that some of the poorest and most deprived wards in the country, are in Falmouth. They desperately need this Youth Club, which is going to be more than just a Club, but somewhere from which a whole raft of children's services can be delivered.

So how will the Tories react to a call for 230k extra funding?. Back in May they where going to cut budgets everywhere, but apart from one success in reducing the cost of works on The Moor, they seemed to have settled down and are doing pretty much what we planned to do. Well they did ask questions, very fair and sensible questions, of how the shortfall had occurred. But it was plain that their hearts weren't in it and they where going to support the Club. Then up popped Councillor Hill (Feock, Con) to inject some passion into the debate. Almost shaking with anger he demanded answers of the Officers. The Cabinet had known of the shortfall Friday evening, how had it taken three whole days to organise a meeting of the full Council? and why had he only received notice the previous evening?. Procedure's had'nt been followed. It was an outrage. He's a professional Accountant, which we all knew because he often mentions it. He went on for ages. They answered politely, the Mayor of Falmouth and the Leader even apologised! You see, this is where I fear that I might not make it as a politician, because I wouldn't have apologised. No, I would have suggested that he got off back to his cash flow projection and let us get on with what we think is important work. Or words to that effect.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Clegg and Huhne

One of the big downsides of being in a political party is fundraising. I'd rather give them £20 than have to do a jumble sale. But it doesn't seem to work that way. Perhaps I missed the meeting or just wasn't paying attention, but I've got stuck with organising this years Christmas Fair. And it's been a complete pain, and very nearly a disaster when I almost forgot to organise Traders Licenses, and with me being on the Licensing Committee, well you can imagine how bad that would have been. Thank you Licensing Department.

But having moaned my way through it, two phone calls cause a sudden change. 'Could Mr Clegg come to your Christmas Fair?' Why yes! that would be great. And then 'Could Mr Huhne come to your Christmas Fair?' oh yes, plenty of room. See the change from oppressed, irritated organiser to clipboard wielding 'I'm in charge Mr Clegg, step this way for photos, raffle tickets, and would you like a pasty Mr Clegg?'. Sometimes I embarrass myself. But I am in charge.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Christmas lights meeting a bit more eventful than expected. One of the main sets of lights that had been put up in Boscawen Street Monday evening, came crashing down Tuesday lunchtime, injuring two people, damaging a car and forcing QS to close for two hours. Unbelievable. For years people have been clambering up ladders and hanging the lights off whatever was handy. Now Health and Safety have stopped all that, and we've had to employ a major company to do it, at a terrific cost, which included £30,000 to test and renew the infrastructure, and we have our first major incident ever! Unbelievable. It's on the front page of the Western Morning News at if you want more.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


Busy day today. Started with a nice little jog down to Malpas and back. Even on a damp autumn day it's great running along the Truro River, really beautiful. Actually the jogging's going well, down to 38 minutes for 5 miles. Well o.k 4.5. I'm not going to worry Paula, but I'm happy. And a bit thinner.

Then organising for 11million takeover day. I've arranged for young people to take over as Mayors of Truro, Penryn and Falmouth for the day. Finalised the itineraries today and it's looking like fun.

Now off to the BIDS meeting to organise Christmas lights etc.

Monday, 12 November 2007


Last week, as a Licensing Sub Committee, we heard an application from a club that wanted to extend it's opening hours until 4.30 a.m. The Police objected and sent along an Inspector,no less, who told us that after 3 a.m shifts change and there could be as little as 3 policeman on duty to cover the entire town, at a time when the club is emptying between 500 and 900 people out on to the streets. An incident elsewhere could mean that the police would be unable to respond to calls if there was trouble outside the club.

Before I was a Councillor I was completely in favour of 24 hour drinking, and would have said 'the demand exists, the Police need to change their shifts'. Now I find myself supporting the Police and listening to residents who object to the noise and nuisance. Have I abandoned my principles?, or am I responding sensibly to the concerns of the Police and the community I represent?

Thursday, 1 November 2007


A 1960's office building in New Bridge Street is being converted into flats, so I got invited along to the Chairman of Planning to look at the plans. In fact the developers had already been given permission by the Planning Inspector, against the Councils wishes, and we were only looking at a proposal to increase the number of flats from 8 to 10.

Having already lost an Appeal the Planners had no enthusiasm to fight this, and felt we had to accept it. But my main interest was slightly different. This building bridges a footpath into a small park and at night time seems to be regarded as a convenient toilet. This is a major nuisance for people, many of whom have to pick their way through this mess the next day, on their way to work. I suggested we ask the developers if they could improve the lighting or put in cameras, or find some deterrent,which would benefit the new residents as well as those of us that use the footpath. Reluctantly the Planners agreed to do this, although it seemed to be a novel and surprising suggestion to them.

I suppose it would help if we didn't close the public toilets at night, or would it? It seems people have no regard for anyone else these days and do what they want, where they want.